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Maximizing Your Local Government Revenue

During an unprecedented pandemic, local governments are facing unplanned budgetary pressures. Revenue forecasts constantly change, services are being reviewed, employees are being furloughed, and localities are looking for ways to save money.

“Doing more with less,” has gone from a goal to a necessity. Constituents continue to have heightened customer service expectations and want an up-to-date experience when interacting with their governments. What “was” an acceptable customer service experience for taxpayers 10 years ago is no longer adequate and governments across the country will be forced to consider ways to automate processes to keep up with constituent demand.

The challenge for local government leaders is that while the pressure to maximize revenue has increased, the resources to do so have not. Often, local government revenue leaders are spread thin with expanded responsibilities and decreased budgets and headcounts.

So, what is a local government revenue leader to do?

A partner who can utilize external expertise and experience is key to maximizing revenue. Finding a qualified partner is usually the best option for local governments because it is by far the most efficient and cost-effective way to get the job done. The ideal partner will be able to hit the ground running and DO much or most of the work for a local government.

Our recent guide enables jurisdictions to understand what to look for in a revenue enhancement partner:

  • Differentiating factors when considering a Revenue Enhancement solution
  • Four core revenue functions that drive revenue maximization
  • Benefits to taxpayer education and compliance
  • Ways to automate and enhance the revenue collection process

During this challenging time, Avenu is here to support you and help your jurisdiction continue to provide exceptional services to your community!

Budgeting in a Sea of Unknowns

Key takeaways regarding budgeting and how to approach the unknown amid the current COVID-19 crisis

Cities across the country are deep into the preparation of their FY2021 budgets, a job that is difficult in the best of circumstances for both City Managers and Finance professionals. However, under the current pandemic conditions, it is seriously daunting and looks almost impossible. This is particularly true for those jurisdictions preparing multi-year projections. The first challenge is doing the projections at all. The second challenge is working with your elected officials, bargaining groups, and community to accept them!

So how do cities prepare budgets in these radically uncertain times?

The key is the assumptions underlying the numbers. In any crisis management challenge, accurate information is critical. However, the more turbulent and uncertain the environment in which the budget has to be developed, the greater the importance of collecting broad data to support grounding assumptions; and the more critical it becomes for staff to share that supporting data and their related analysis with their elected officials.

That brings us to COVID-19 and the unknowns of the rapidly evolving economic landscape. While all cities currently share the same general uncertainty, each community is, in fact, unique. They are different in size. Their business community mix may be very different than the adjacent communities. Their social priorities may vary widely. Their ability to deliver services, and the type of services they deliver, may differ. Their population may be younger or older than other communities. So, while certain assumptions may apply across all of them, others are going to be unique to each community.

With this in mind, how does each city approach budget development?

There are four areas that any city must now consider when building their FY2021 budgets (particularly when building Year One of a multi-year budget), although how they gather information and the resulting assumptions they make may vary widely:

  1. The Pandemic
  2. The Economic Shutdown
  3. Recovery
  4. Future Planning (Lessons Learned)

Download our recent White Paper: Budgeting in a Sea of Unknowns to read more as we outline ways to approach budgeting in these uncertain times.

 

 

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Webinar: Sharing Economy: The Upside of Disrupting Local Governance

As the sharing economy explodes, jurisdictions are grappling with the implications. In this webinar, Avenu experts shared how jurisdictions can handle the regulatory disruption caused by the sharing economy.

You’ll learn about:

  • The impacts of revenue sourcing and lack of compliance
  • Key ways to prioritize involvement given limited resources
  • Opportunities for collaboration among cities to develop and advocate for more effective policy and regulatory responses
  • Strategies for addressing data gaps in order to support evidence-based decision making
  • A roadmap for monitoring and regulating

The next few years are critical for determining how to respond to this evolving industry and proactively develop a strategy that efficiently advances urban sustainability.

The webinar was presented by Jonathan Gerth – Vice President of Audit Services for Avenu.

CLICK HERE to view the presentation.

 

CA – 2019 Legislative Recap of Recent Action by the Governor / Ready for Implementation

The October 13 deadline for Governor Newsom to sign bills has come and gone. Implementation begins. Avenu is positioned to assist local agencies in implementing the new laws, including business license measures, and SB 344 the one-year extension for AB 1717 (2014) that captures UUT revenues from prepaid. READ MORE HERE.

 

CA – Final Action by the Assembly and Senate Prior to Adjournment

This comprehensive guide covers selected measures – including many were considered the final weeks of session.  The report covers legislation impacting local revenue sources and issues surrounding local governance.   The Governor must act on measures by October 13, 2019. READ MORE HERE. 

Avenu Insights Joins Coalition Letter Requesting the Governor’s Signature on SB 5

Avenu joins its California client cities, transportation authorities, mayors, business leaders and other local government leaders requesting the Governor’s signature on SB 5.

SB 5 is sound policy and will allow the state to fill the void left by the elimination of redevelopment and provide more tools to support local efforts to build more affordable housing, provide essential infrastructure, and create opportunities in underserved communities.

“On behalf of a broad coalition of labor, local government, housing advocates, and business leaders, we ask that you sign Senate Bill 5 (Beall, McGuire, Portantino). SB 5 is the only legislation passed this year that will immediately result in housing being built, particularly for low-income families and those on the brink of homelessness.

Senate Bill 5 would create the Affordable Housing and Community Development Program to provide cities and counties the resources they need to help fund the construction of affordable housing, including rental housing, available to very low, low and moderate-income families. This bill would stimulate housing for those particularly vulnerable to homelessness.”

The full coalition letter can be read here.

 

CPAS: A Modern Solution to Pension Management

Managing pension and benefit plans can be challenging in today’s world.  Disparate data sources, ongoing legislative changes, manual processes and work-arounds, and the increasing demand for instant access to information all create a complicated situation. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated.

We recently released CPASv5 by Avenu. Your all- in-one system for smarter pension administration.

With its versatility to handle any type of benefit plan from Defined Benefit, Defined Contribution, Hybrid pension Plans, savings plans, and Health and Welfare Benefits, CPAS has all the functionality administrators, employers, members and retirees need.

CPAS is powerful, yet flexible to easily respond to changes in plan design, legislation and administration practices.

Built-in workflows, case management and automation allow you to process eligibility, employment and contribution da\ta, run benefit calculations in seconds, and process benefit payments.

Operations are more efficient. With a single system and source of data, information is current, relevant and secure.

You are also provided a 360 degree view of a member’s account for improved client communication and faster service.

In turn members can access their up-to-date information at any time, on any device and have the tools to plan for their financial future.

Talk to a CPAS Specialist today to learn more.

How to Achieve Hassle-Free Unclaimed Property Reporting

If you’re in charge of reporting unclaimed property for your company, you understand the dreaded challenges it can bring each year, especially if reports for multiple jurisdictions are needed.

Just a few of the many frustrations include:

  • Searching for state-specific forms
  • Varying mandatory filing dates for unclaimed property
  • Determining where and how to report to each state
  • Using the correct codes that are specific to each state

As if that’s not enough, you have to produce final reports on a timely basis.

Audits or numerous penalties can easily become a reality if reporting is inaccurate or late. An audit by a state or third-party can be triggered by filing late, flawed reports, or improper reporting formats. Wanting to avoid these scenarios brings a certain amount of stress with the job.

Additionally, reporting unclaimed property incorrectly takes away much-needed internal resources from core business operations, all while accruing expensive legal costs and penalty fees. Each state has their own interest penalty and daily fines depending on the situation, which can put a dent in your company’s budget and operating costs.

Perhaps the most confusing aspect is keeping all the unclaimed property reporting deadlines straight, in order to avoid running into any of the aforementioned problems.

Unclaimed Property Reporting Due Dates

Most states have a fall reporting deadline of October 31 or November 1, and a few have a spring or summer date. In some cases, states may have multiple deadlines depending on the type of property.

It’s essential for businesses to be prepared for the unclaimed property reporting period(s) and be educated on the many rules and regulations that come with it. One method that refines the process for a hassle-free experience is electronic reporting, which decreases the amount of errors and aids in avoiding hefty interest, penalties and fines.

Achieving Hassle-Free Reporting

An Intuitive Software Solution for Comprehensive Compliance

It is time-consuming to keep up with the ever-changing laws, reporting procedures and state specific forms, but there’s a solution with an unclaimed property reporting software like HRS Pro. Everything you need to meet compliance for each jurisdiction is at your fingertips. Equipped with full reporting capabilities in the NAUPA II format for all states—including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia—HRS Pro is a seamless reporting tool and cost-efficient solution.

Here are just a few of the awesome features of the HRS Pro ‘Enterprise’ version:

  • Quick input and export of data
  • Due diligence letter outlines and templates for each state
  • Unlimited number of companies (FEINs)
  • Unlimited properties per state report
  • All required state forms
  • Use of State specific codes for property types, owner types, relationship types and tangible types
  • Links to each state’s website and state contacts

There’s also the choice of desktop or web applications, depending on your company’s preferred data solution.

Unparalleled Accessibility Through Desktop or Web

The Enterprise version for HRS Pro offers two software options: desktop or web application. To determine which is better for your reporting needs, we’ve listed a few key differences.

Desktop Enterprise

  • Enables you to locally host the application and data
  • Allows for data to be configured to a network location where multiple users can access the same data
  • Requires software installation

Web Enterprise

  • Includes web hosting by Avenu Insights & Analytics of the application and data
  • Offers capability to search the database for a property owner
  • Allows you to register, apply payment, and automatically log in without a download
  • Incorporates user-defined report description and status

Both options provide you with comprehensive functionality for a low annual fee, creating a hassle-free reporting season.

Don’t let the process of reporting your unclaimed property be harder than it should be, visit the HRS Pro website.

 

MissingMoney.com is Putting Money in the Pockets of Americans!

Americans are strapped for cash. Only 40% of Americans have enough money to pay a $1,000 unexpected expense from savings. We’re constantly looking for second jobs, and ways to bring in extra money. However, Americans are starting to realize there may be an easier way to put a little extra money in your pocket.

MissingMoney.com is a national search tool that works with 43 state treasurers to help citizens find and claim unclaimed property. You might be amazed just how much money people are receiving.

A few examples of how much money available includes: New York, $13 billion; California, $9 billion; Illinois, $2.9 billion; Florida, $1 billion; and Colorado, $600 million.

Recently, a New Jersey resident, Erin Fiorello, received $1,000 from the state of New Jersey. Imagine what you could pay off or the impact an extra $1,000 could have. She first realized she could claim money when a group approached her willing to help claim the money for a fee. With MissingMoney.com she found out she was owed $1,000 and pocketed the entire amount.

In Ohio, fair attendees were treated to a surprise. The state of Ohio reunited 553 fairgoers with $195,118.89 at the Ohio State Fair. Instead of a booth trying to get you to spend your money, this booth helped people receive an average of $350. That would brighten anyone’s fair experience!

U.S. News and World Report recently ran an article discussing some of the common types of unclaimed property available: former pensions and retirement plans, life insurance policies, bank accounts, unpaid wages, utility bills, etc. They also share the story of one person who was able to help his family.

“Steve Wiegenstein, an author in Columbia, Missouri, suggests visiting MissingMoney.com. “I recently found $178 from the state of Illinois that was owed to me as an unclaimed escrow return from the sale of a house that occurred nearly 10 years ago,” he says.

He adds that he then recommended MissingMoney.com to his daughter. “She found a utility refund from Iowa that dated back to her college years,” he says.

While every state has programs to return money to citizens, MissingMoney.com lets you search almost every state to see where you are owed money. After submitting a form, the money can be yours. This capability helped one of Avenu’s happiest recipients who found money in multiple states.

One recipient recently shared their experience with us through direct message. This message made our day. “This year, our family claimed: $6k from Kansas, $3k from Georgia, and $3.6k from Michigan.” Wow!

Take a moment today and search your name on MissingMoney.com and see what you could claim. Share this exciting news with your friends and family as well. They may love what they find!

Webinar: How to Search Records in Milliseconds vs Minutes

Avenu’s webinar showcases a cutting-edge new document search tool developed specifically for local government in partnership with Google Cloud and Sada Systems. Clearview Super Search enables governments to access documents with lightning speed across departments. The advanced search techniques allow constituents to quickly and conveniently search, purchase and download files, reducing support calls, while increasing revenue and productivity.

The webinar featured De Ana Thompson – Vice President, Blair Reuling – Sales Manager with Google Could Search, and Chad Johnson – Director of Google Cloud Search with SADA Systems. Our panel discussed challenges faced by Recorders/Clerks, a Clearview Super Search demo, and how we indexed over 13 million records for one customer in Oakland County – MI.

CLICK HERE to view the presentation.